Shukra literally means semen virile, sperm, lucid, clear. In human physiology, Shukra dhatu is a body component having reproductive capacity. It is generally equated with semen (SAT-B.445).
Shukra dhatu is described to be of two forms in Ayurveda textbooks:
- The one that is ejaculated during the process of mating, which is responsible for fertilization of ovum and thus embryogenesis. This is semen in males.
- The one that is formed from predecessor the tissue that fills the bony cavities(majja dhatu). This in turn circulates all over the body both in males and females.
Reproduction is the function of this second form of shukra too. Therefore, on careful examination, it seems that the first form of shukra stands for the semen in general and for sperms in particular; and, the second form of shukra stands for hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis of hormones that circulate all over the body.
|Section/Chapter/topic||Sharira / Dhatu / Shukra Dhatu|
|Authors||Anagha S.,Deole Y.S.|
|Reviewed by||Basisht G.|
|Affiliation||Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.P.G.T.& R.A., Jamnagar|
|Publisher||Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.T.R.A., Jamnagar, India|
|Date of publication:||June 16, 2020|
Etymology and derivation
It is derived from the Sanskrit root-word “shuch” meaning brightness, clearness, light, flame, glow, heat etc. 
The term is used to denote any clear liquid, juice, the essence of anything, semen virile, seed of animals (male and female), and sperm.
- Pumstvam / Paurusham: denoting masculinity
- Retas: that which flows (denoting seminal fluid)
- Beejam: denoting the germ element/origin/ source/cause
- Veeryam: denoting the power/potency /valor/heroism
- Teja: showing the essential nature or essence of tissues
- Indriyam: bodily virile power or power of the sense
- Annavikara: originated from the nutrient fluid (ahara rasa)
- Majjarasa: derived from the essence of bone marrow(majja dhatu)
Meanings in different contexts
- It refers to “male genetic prototype”-one of the factors, which is responsible for the formation of the embryo (garbha)[Cha. Sa.Sharira Sthana 2/4]
- It is one of the factors responsible for the basic constitution (prakriti) of an individual.[Cha. Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/95], [Su. Sa. Sharira Sthana 4/6].
- Shukra is known as the most important (pradhana dhatu)[Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 30/184] and seed like component (beejarupa dhatu) [Cha. Sa. Sharira Sthana 4/7,10]
- In the context of reproduction, the term shukra denotes the semen only. [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 30/146]
- Shukra/shukla refers to white colour and the iris of the eye and some morbid afflictions/ diseases of the iris are also known by the term shukra.[Su. Sa Uttara Tantra 1/36]
Panchabhautika constitution and properties
The pure virile semen (shukra)is unctuous (snigdha), viscous (ghana), slimy (picchila), sweet (madhura). It does not cause a burning sensation in genital tract (avidahi). It looks like white crystal quartz (shukla).[Cha. Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 30/146]
Formation and metabolism of shukra dhatu
During metabolism, the unctuous part of predecessor majja dhatu is transformed into shukra dhatu. The marrow is present in bones. Minute pores are created by the action of vayu and akasha mahabhuta on bones. The shukra dhatu oozes out from these minute pores after action of factors responsible for the metabolism of shukra dhatu (shukra dhatu agni). This process is like water oozing out of new mud pot, shukra also oozes out of these pores. It is then circulated all over the body through channels of transportation of shukra dhatu(shukravahasrotas).[Cha. Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 15/32-33] Thus, shukra dhatu is present all over body.
The second form is present in testicles (vrushana). After maturation, at the time of sexual excitation or urge of ejaculation (vega), the semen (shukra) is discharged through urethra. This process happens just like ghee is melted by heat. [Cha. Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 15/34-35].
Metabolic byproducts (Upadhatu)
Ojas is considered as the metabolic byproduct (upadhatu) of shukra.[Sha. Sa. Purva khanda chapter 5] Other scholars opine that as shukra is the essence of all dhatu, there is no metabolic byproduct or waste formed during its formation.
Quantity of shukra dhatu in body
The total quantity of shukra is mentioned as half anjali. [Cha. Sa. Sharira Sthana 7/15] Anjali is a personified measurement unit.
Shukra is formed on the seventh day by the transformation of nutrient fluid (ahara rasa). The aphrodisiac food and medicines (vrishya) can enhance the formation of shukra in a shorter time. [Cha.Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 15/20-21] Sushruta opines that shukra dhatu is formed in a time span of one month. (18090 kala≈30days).[Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 14/14]
Characteristics of best quality of reproductive tissue(shukra sara)
The persons endowed with the essence of shukra dhatu are gentle (saumya), having charming appearance (saumyaprekshina), beautiful eyes as if filled with milk (kshirapurnalochana) and immensely exhilarated (praharshabahula). Their teeth are unctuous, rounded, firm, even and compact. They have prominent buttocks (large pelvic girdle). They have pleasant, unctuous complexion and voice. They are brilliant. They are liked by women for enjoyment, are strong and endowed with happiness, leisure, health, wealth, honor, and progeny. [Cha. Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/109]
Forms of shukradhatu in body
The shukra dhatu is present in various forms as below:
Channels of transportation transformation of shukra dhatu (shukravahasrotas)
The Channels of transportation and transformation of shukra dhatu (shukravahasrotas) has its roots in testicles and penis. [Cha. Sa. Vimana Sthana 5/8] Sushruta opines that they originate from breast and testicles. There are two vessels to carry Shukra dhatu. [Su. Sa. Sharira Sthana 9/12] There are various other anatomical structures related to shukra dhatu. These can be included in the transport and transformation system of shukra dhatu (shukravaha srotas).
The structures are as described below:
Layer of shukra (shukradhara kala):
Kala is the layer in outer coverings of the body observed in sagittal section. The layer of shukra is the innermost layer that is present in the entire body. Shukra dhatu is distributed all over the body in the same manner that the fat in the milk and juice in the sugar cane plant are distributed. [Cha Sa Chikitsa Sthana 2/46],[Su. Sa. Sharira Sthana 4/20]
Some scholars opine that shukradhara kala can be observed as the seminiferous tubules of the testes.
The mucous membranes of the testes, seminiferous tubules, epididymis, vas deferens and prostate in the male and that of the vagina, uterus, uterine tubes and ovaries in females can be considered as shukradhara kala.
Vessels carrying shukra dhatu (shukravahini dhamani)
Two pairs of vessels carrying shukra dhatu (shukravahini dhamani) are listed as channels for transportation. [Su. Sa. Sharira Sthana 9/12] Two more vessels are present for production of semen (shukra)and two are for ejaculation.[Su. Sa.Sharira Sthana 9/7]
The semen (shukra) passes through the ducts situated about 4 cm (two angula) on either side (vas deferens)and just below the neck of the bladder. It is finally ejaculated through urethra. [Su. Sa.Sharira Sthana 4/22]
Functions of shukra dhatu
Shukra bestows courage, ejaculation, lust, strength of the body, pleasure, love, and affection. The main function of shukra is reproduction and embryogenesis. [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 15/5]
Importance in diagnosis
Shukra is one among the ten seats of vitality (dashapranayatanani) [Cha. Sa. Sharira Sthana 7/9] Thus extreme depletion of its quality and quantity may lead to death.
Causes of vitiation
The following are the causative factors for the vitiation of channels for transport and transformation of shukra dhatu.[Cha. Sa. Vimana Sthana 5/19]
Consumption of incompatible food, excessive consumption of dry, bitter, astringent, salty, sour, hot food.
Anxiety, distress, distrust, apprehension, rage, exorcism.
Excess intercourse, untimely coitus, coitus other than in vagina, or complete abstinence from it(suppression of discharge of semen), unaware of female desire, untimely ejaculation etc.
Excess exercise, senility, improper usage of surgical instruments, alkali (kshara), heat or cautery (agni), emaciation due to other diseases, repression of natural urges, injury, morbidity causing vitiation of dhatus, doshas individually or collectively reaching reproductive system (retovahasrotas) leads to acute disorders of the shukra (semen). [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 30/139]
The increase or decrease in quality and/or quantity of shukra dhatu can lead to various abnormal conditions. The states can be assessed by the following clinical features.
Signs of decrease
- Dryness of mouth
- Pain in penis and testes
- Delayed ejaculation, absence of ejaculation
- Scanty semen, Semen mixed with blood
- Burning sensation in penis
[Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 17/69], [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 15/9], [Ash. Sa. Sutra Sthana 19/9]
Signs of increase
- Seminal calculi
- Excessive production of semenor hyperspermia
- Excessive libido
[Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 15/14], [A.S. Sutra Sthana 19/6]
Clinical features of vitiation of channels of transport and transformation of shukra dhatu (shukravahasrotas)
- Due to vitiation of channels of transportation and transformation of shukra dhatu (shukravahasrotas), the person becomes sexually impotent, with lack of libido, and infertile. The spouse is also affected by diseases. There are chances of no conception or frequent abortions. The progeny, if borne, is sick, impotent, and short-lived with congenital abnormalities. Thus, abnormalities of shukra dhatu result in misery for the individual as well as his family.[Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 28/18-19]
- Injury to the shukravahasrotas leads to impotence, delayed ejaculation, and semen mixed with blood.[Su. Sa. Sharira Sthana 9/12]
Role of shukra dhatu as vitiated factor in diseases
Shukra dhatu is involved in the pathogenesis of the following diseases:
- Obstinate urinary diseases including diabetes(prameha) [Cha. Sa. Nidana Sthana 4/7]
- Emaciation including tuberculosis (shosha) [Cha. Sa. Nidana Sthana 6/8]
- Emaciation due to trauma (kshata-ksheena)) [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 11/12].
- When vitiated vata dosha affects semen, it causes premature ejaculation or absence of ejaculation. In females, it can cause dysmenorrhoea, oligomenorrhoea, or amenorrhoea. In pregnancy, it leads to preterm or delayed labor. It may also cause congenital deformities in the fetus. [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 28/34].
- If the vata is occluded in semen, it results in ejaculation or premature ejaculation or sterility. [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 28/68].
- In case of fever (jwara), vitiated dosha located in the shukra dhatu cause untimely ejaculation and destruction of shukra. This results in decreased vitality with vayu, agni, and soma components of the subtle body. It is incurable. [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 3/82]
Characteristics of vitiated semen (shukradushti)
The vitiated semen is frothy(phenilam), less viscous (tanu), dry with less fluid (ruksha), discolored(vivarnam), putrid(puti), slimy (pichhilam ), afflicted with other dhatus and precipitant. [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 30/139-140].
Dosha specific features
The shukra dhatu affected by dosha and specific cause show respective characteristics as given below:
|Cause/factor of vitiation||Characteristic features|
|Vata dosha||frothy, slender, dry, scanty, discomforting ejaculation, infertile|
|Pitta dosha||bluish or yellow discoloration,putrid odor, ejaculation with burning sensation|
|Kapha dosha||extremely slimy and obstructs channel of semen (ejaculatory duct)|
|Excessive coitus/ injury||semen with blood|
|Suppression of sexual urge||ejaculate painfully with increased viscosity.|
Sushruta and Vagbhata described eight types of vitiated shukra as below: Affected by vata dosha, pitta dosha, kapha dosha, that having cadaveric smell(kunapagandhi), having clots/coagulated mass(granthi), foul smelling, pus like(puti-puya), decreased quantity(kshina), mixed with urine(mutraretas) and feces (purisha).[Su. Sa.Sharira Sthana 2/3]
Abnormalities of Semen
Currently, the microscopic study of semen is done as the “seminal analysis”. The abnormalities in semen are observed as below:
- Aspermia: absence of semen
- Azoospermia: absence of sperm
- Hypospermia: low semen volume
- Hyperspermia: high semen volume
- Oligozoospermia: Very low sperm count
- Asthenozoospermia: poor sperm motility
- Teratozoospermia: sperm carry more morphological defects than usual
- Necrozoospermia: all sperm in the ejaculate are dead
- Leucospermia: a high level of white blood cells in semen.
- In case of fever, if the vitiated dosha are affecting shukra dhatu, then it is incurable. [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 3/83].
- The vitiation of shukra by vata, pitta, kapha dosha are curable. The semen with cadaveric smell(kunapagandhi), having clots/coagulated mass (granthi), foul-smelling, pus-like(puti-puya), decreased quantity (kshina) are difficult to cure. The semen mixed with urine(mutra) and faeces (purisha)are incurable. [Su. Sa. Sharira Sthana 2/4]
Vagbhata opines that all conditions are difficult to cure except the ones mixed with urine and feces, which is incurable. [A. Hr. Sharira Sthana 1/11]
Importance of concept in the preservation of health and prevention
Aphrodisiac therapies (vajikarana) produces lineage of progeny, quick sexual stimulation, enables one to perform sexual act with the women uninterruptedly and promote corpulence and infallible and indestructible semen. [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 1/1/9-10] This is one of the most important measures to promote sexual health and prevent diseases.
Principles of management
- If the semen is affected, virility enhancing food and drinks which promote strength and semen are beneficial. Therapeutic purgation (virechana) is indicated in the case of obstruction in the passage of semen.[Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 28/94]
- Aphrodisiac therapies (vajikarana) is beneficial in the case of diseases of semen. The medicines pacifying bleeding disorders (raktapittahara) and those indicated in the management of disorders of the female genital tract (yoni vyapat) are prescribed in vitiation of shukra dhatu. Jeevaneeyaghritam, chyavanaprasha and shilajatu are specially indicated to treat diseases of virile semen. [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 30/146-148]
- Ghee(sarpi), milk(payas), meat soup (mamsarasa), shali rice, barley (yava), shashtika rice, and especially therapeutic enema (basti karma) are advised in the disorders of semen.[Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 30/152]
The following table shows specific therapies for treating disorders of shukra dhatu by vitiated dosha.
|Type of vitiation||Treatment|
|Vata||evacuation and unctuous enema (niruha and anuvasana)|
|Pitta||rasayana formulations indicated in abhayaamalakeeya chapter|
|Kapha||pippali,guduchi, loha, triphala, bhallataka rasayana|
In the contemporary approach, the body components related to reproduction are considered under purview of shukra dhatu. Thus, the male and female reproductive systems, their anatomical and physiological aspects are observed under shukra dhatu. The disorders of semen are described mainly in this article. The disorders of female genital tract and menstruation are described in separate contexts with reference to Yonivyapat Chikitsa.
The semen analysis also called seminogram or spermiogram which evaluates certain characteristics of semen and the sperm contained therein.
There are many parameters obtained through a spermiogram, the most frequently studied are:
- Liquefaction: After the ejaculation, the sperm sample is coagulated and needs to be liquefied in order to perform any tests. In normal conditions, the sperm is totally liquefied in 60 minutes after the ejaculation.
- Viscosity: When the semen sample is highly viscous, it may be a sign of a prostatic dysfunction.
- Volume: The normal volume of an ejaculate sample after 3 or 5 days of sexual abstinence is 1.5 ml approximately. Lower volumes might suggest hypospermia.
- Color: Sperm is usually opalescent white, lightly yellow. When the color is altered, it is recommended to study possible causes.
- pH: Values should be greater than 7.1. Lower values might be a sign of azoospermia (lack of spermatozoa) or chronic inflammatory processes.
- Sperm concentration: Normal values are around 15 million per ml ejaculated or 39 million per complete semen sample. When these values are lower it could indicate oligozoospermia.
- Motility: The percentage of motile spermatozoa and progressively motile is analyzed. The progressive motility value should be over 32%, on the contrary, it might indicate astenozoospermia.
- Vitality: The percentage of vital spermatozoa must be over 58%. Lower values could indicate astenoozoospermia.
- Morphology: There might be 4% or more normal spermatozoa in an usual spermiogram. Lower percentage of normal sperms and high percentage of morphologically abnormal sperms could indicate teratozoospermia.
- Leukocytes: When the leukocyte concentration is over 1 million per ml of sample it might indicate an infection (leukocytosis).
- Antisperm Antibodies or Mar test: The number of spermatozoa with adherent particles or cells is reflected. More than 50% spermatozoa clustered together suggests an immunological problem.
Ayurveda text describe the formation of shukra dhatu from majja dhatu. Current research shows that bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) have the potential for differentiation. They secrete anti-inflammatory cytokines and growth factors which make them appropriate for cell therapy. A study conducted to evaluate the healing effect of BM-MSCs transplantation on germinal cells showed that the transplanted BM-MSCs could successfully induce spermatogenesis in seminiferous tubules of azoospermic hamster. Therefore, BM-MSCs can be an attractive candidate in cell transplantation of azoospermia.
List of theses
The following research works are done to study the efficacy of various formulation in enhancing virility and treating disorders of vitiation of shukra dhatu.
- Raja Reddy G.(1999): A comparative pharmaco-therapeutic study of erandamula and kapikacchu bija with special reference to vrishya karma, department of Dravyaguna, IPGT &RA, Jamnagar
- Mangalasseri Prakash (2002): A clinical study of shukragata-vata w.s.r. to premature ejaculation and its management with akarakarabhadi yoga and yapana basti, department of Kayachikitsa, IPGT &RA, Jamnagar.
- Girish K J (2002): Role of shukrasodhana-janana yoga in the management of ksheena-shukra, department of Kayachikitsa, IPGT &RA, Jamnagar.
- Kulakarni Hrishikesh(2004): A pharmaco-therapeutic study on putranjeevaka (drypetes roxburghii wall.) w.s.r. to vrishya karma, department of Dravyaguna, IPGT &RA, Jamnagar.
- Joshi Kalpesh (2005): Comparative study with mashadi vati and amalaki-bhavit shilajitu in the management of ksheena-shukra (oligospermia), department of Kayachikitsa, IPGT &RA, Jamnagar.
- Basil Cardozo (2006): A clinical study on psycho-somatic management of shukravrita vata (premature ejaculation) with rasayana yoga and shirodhara, department of Kayachikitsa, IPGT &RA, Jamnagar.
- Shiromani Mishra (2008): A pharmaco-therapeutic study on kushmanda [benincasahispida (thunb.) cong.] beejaw.s.r. to vrishya karma, department of Dravyaguna, IPGT &RA, Jamnagar.
- Vinish Kumar Gupta (2009): The role of akarakarabhadi yoga in the management of kshipramunchan of shukragata vata w.s.r. to premature ejaculation (p.e.), department of Kayachikitsa, IPGT &RA, Jamnagar.
- Jitesh C Padariya (2010): Effect of pushpadhanva-rasa and swayamgupta ikshurak beejachoorna on kshinashukra(oligozoospermia), department of Kayachikitsa, IPGT &RA, Jamnagar.
- Rajiv G Amal (2011): The role of gokshuradi yoga in the management of klaibya w.s.r. to erectile dysfunction, department of Kayachikitsa, IPGT &RA, Jamnagar
- Prasad Kulkarni (2012): A clinical study on shukragatavata w.s.r. premature ejaculation and its management by stambhanakarak yoga, department of Kayachikitsa, IPGT &RA, Jamnagar
- SAT = Standard Ayurveda Terminology
- Cha. = Charak
- Su. = Sushruta
- Ka. = Kashyapa
- Sha. =Sharangadhara
- Sa. = Samhita
- A. = Ashtanga
- S. = Sangraha
- Hr. = Hrudaya
References from Charak Samhita
The list of references for shukra dhatu in Charak Samhita can be seen here.
- Available from https://spokensanskrit.org/index.php?tran_input=zukra&direct=se&script=hk&link=yes&mode=3 accessed on 16/06/2020
- Available from http://namstp.ayush.gov.in/#/sat accessed on 16/06/2020
- Patwardhan Kishor. 2018 Grahani Chikitsa Adhyaya available from http://www.carakasamhitaonline.com/index.php?title=Grahani_Chikitsa#Vidhi_Vimarsha_.28Applied_Inferences_.29 accessed on 08/06/2020
- Monier Williams (1899), “शुच्”, in A Sanskrit–English Dictionary, new edition, Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, OCLC 458052227, page 1081.
- Jha Srujan. Amarkosha online application
- Dwarkanath C. Introduction to Kayachikitsa. Chaukhambha Orientalia. Varanasi; 1996. Third edition.pg.349
- Tamadon A et al, Induction of Spermatogenesis by Bone Marrow-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Busulfan-induced Azoospermia in Hamster,Int J Stem Cells. 2015 Nov;8(2):134-45. doi: 10.15283/ijsc.2015.8.2.134